Busy gospel star Tina Campbell seems to have it all together, and after a seemingly insurmountable trial, maybe she does.
In New York last week to appear on Kirk Franklin’s Sirius/XM Praise show, film for her and sister and gospel duo Mary Mary partner Erica Campbell’s WE tv reality series Mary Mary, and perform with her sister across the Hudson in New Jersey, she even found time in between fittings, sound check and taping to fit in a quick interview.
And while she also has her debut solo CD It’s Personal recently released via her and husband Teddy Campbell’s GeeTree Creative company (it debuted at No. 1 on the gospel charts without benefit of major label muscle), along with a companion book I Need a Day to Pray and a forthcoming solo tour, she somehow insisted that she was both “new and underexposed.”
“It’s like when Beyoncé first went solo,” Campbell explained. “Even though she was considered the star of Destiny’s Child, it took a minute for her to prove she could stand alone from Michelle and Kelly and make it on her own.”
In Campbell’s case, she’s following the example of sister Erica, who also records and tours solo. But she’s also facing a reality that has made It’s Personal intensely personal while in fact necessitating that day for her to pray.
“Both the music and the book share a story of triumph and overcoming,” Campbell understated, for they deal with her massive marital crisis that erupted two years ago during Season 3 of Mary Mary, when she learned that her husband, himself a successful drummer and gospel vocalist and with whom she has five children, had been extraordinarily unfaithful.
“I went completely spastic,” admitted Campbell. “I tried to forgive my husband and salvage our relationship, but then I found out that there were countless more women over a much longer period of time—and I found this all out while we were doing the show.”
Her husband wanted to “come clean,” she said, but was afraid—not without reason—that she might “spazz out and kill herself.”
“He had to face his demons and be honest, and it devastated me and the very foundation of my being—and I didn’t think I’d recover,” acknowledged Campbell. “But I wasn’t aware that I was deeply in love and connected with him even though he’d done something horrible—and I hated myself for it: I believed him to be better than he was, and felt like one of those dumb women. So I required everything—‘Who? What? When? Where? Did you like it? Did they like it?’—and he told me every single thing.”
Campbell was “tormented by truths,” she continued.
“My life was falling apart, and in the process of hurting I tried the revenge thing and ended up more miserable—and never got revenge. I thought of my children and leaving them with a legacy of suicide—not the legacy I wanted to leave them. But I’m a person of faith, and was committed to overcoming and getting through and becoming better—and not allowing the devil to win and destroy another Christian family. So I prayed every day and fought through it, and let prayer and music bring me through the dark and hopeless time in my life. I didn’t let the devastation take me down, because I’m not a quitter!”
Campbell and her husband spent several months working toward saving their marriage.
“We celebrated 15 years of marriage two days ago, and he’s with me and is playing drums with Mary Mary—and I couldn’t be more happy and stronger, wiser and more resilient,” she said. “My faith is proven. I appreciate who he is now because I know who he was before.”
And she refuses to let “public opinion take me down.”
“I don’t know why God gave me tough skin, but I don’t let people’s opinions define me,” she said. “Embarrassing things happen to everybody, and what happened to me has happened to countless people. So be embarrassed, and then let’s move on with life and not let it take you down—and that’s what I did. I don’t care about negative opinions and social networks, but go with the opinions of God and me. I wanted to be free and now I am.”
Campbell hopes that her CD and book can “do for others what they did for me.”
She will now tour her An Evening With Tina Campbell show in the fall. With participation from her husband and sister Goo, she’ll perform songs from It’s Personal and read excepts from I Need a Day to Pray.
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